NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Christmas came a little early for dozens of children living in Norfolk’s public housing communities.
On Thursday, 27 children ranging in age from 4 to 16 were given a free mattress courtesy of Grand Furniture.
It’s through a partnership with the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority called “A Chance to Dream Grand” program. The business, which started in 1947 in Downtown Norfolk, donated 27 twin mattresses.
“Back in November, Grand approached us with an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up,” said Yilla Smith, the director of client services for NRHA. “It was to showcase the talent of our young residents through art. So, we announced a poster contest. We put together the poster kits, sent it out to our residents, and we really encouraged our residents to articulate their dreams through our contest.”
The contest helped narrow down the children who would be chosen. Smith says many drew and wrote about what they wanted to be.
She’s excited that they were able to do this during a year that’s been difficult for many.
“This is a blessing,” Smith said. “To be able to get this done before the holidays was one of our primary objects in this. We knew and committed to getting these beds in these homes before the holidays so our kids could have one less thing to worry about.”
But the mattresses and box springs were not the only gifts received.
Donors also supplied goodie bags and bedding.
“They will sleep good. They have sheets, new comforters,” said Priscilla Burrows-Penny with Grand Furniture. “When we were talking about this, I said ‘Look we got mattresses but we need things for the kids to have.’ So, I reached out to customers, my friends, people in the community. So it goes along with a good, nice sleep for the holidays.”
Burrows-Penny says she and her coworker Shantel Barringer started planning for this event back in the summer because the owners of Grand, Craig and Matt Stein, wanted to help.
“This program has been in place for a while. We wanted to put a spin on it and get it going. This is really the beginning of something that’s going to be big. This is not the first thing we will do. This will continue because Hampton Roads built Grand and has made Grand what it is today,” she said.
The African American Male Focus Group also helped deliver the mattresses to residents.
And, seeing everyone come together to make this possible is a reminder that dreams and creativity in the darkest days and years can help push us forward.
“Inspired,” said Smith about the contest. “Something so simple could turn into something so grand. COVID has been nothing short of unreal for many of these households. Something so simple, just a simple post, I knew my kids draw all day every day. This was something so simple that really meant a lot.”